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Serbia: MFRR condemns dangerous and baseless smear campaign aimed at KRIK

The MFRR condemns the smear campaign aimed at the Network for Investigation of Crime and Corruption (KRIK) by pro-government media outlets that propagated the baseless and dangerous claim that KRIK has a ‘secret deal’ with Veljko Belivuk, a recently arrested leader of an organised crime group. 

On 9th and 10th March, a number of pro-Government media outlets alleged that KRIK is coordinating with Belivuk to monitor or threaten the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić. Tabloid newspapers, including The Serbian Telegraph, Kurir and Alo published front-page articles that KRIK is Belivuk’s private media. Alo stated in its coverage, that KRIK ‘served on the one hand as a megaphone of the criminal clan of Veljko Belivuk, and on the other as an instrument of police officials who eavesdropped on the President of Serbia and his family.’ 

On 9 March, pro-government Pink TV, a leading commercial broadcaster, stated in its news show that “it is suspected that people from the top of the police provided KRIK journalists with data on the movements of President Aleksander Vučić’s family members.” Little verifiable or corroborated evidence has been shared to verify these claims.

The MFRR joins the coalition of eight Serbian journalists’ and media associations in calling for the Serbian Public Prosecutor’s Office to ‘deny completely unfounded and dangerous insinuations about KRIK’s connection with criminal groups’. We will continue to monitor the situation and call for thorough investigations into the smear campaign and assurances that KRIK and all staff are protected.

Nik Williams